History of Helsinki’s Jewish sports club chosen as Book of the Year in Finland

The Sports Museum of Finland has chosen as the country’s 2016 Sports Book of the Year a book published by Makkabi Helsinki in honour of its 110th anniversary.

The book is titled, “Makkabi Helsinki  – The History of Helsinki’s Jewish Sports Club“.

The visually rich and impressive volume opens up more than merely a sport club’s history, rather it forms a gateway to the evolution of the entire Jewish Community in Finland. 

The Sports Book of the Year has been chosen by the Finnish Sports Museum since 1980.

Makkabi Helsinki is the world’s oldest continuously functioning Jewish sports club. The club has had an important significance both to the Jewish community and to Finnish sports. The book tells the story of the 110 year old club from the early 20th century to modern times.

When Makkabi Helsinki (then called Stjärnan) was founded, the Jewish community’s attitude to sports club activities was filled with staunch opposition and even the authorities would not give the necessary permits. The club however quickly rooted its position as a glue binding the Jewish Community together.

Makkabi Helsinki has produced Olympic winners and Olympians, several national medalist Elias Katz, national footballers and national ice hockey players.

Today Makkabi Helsinki is an active sports club with sports from squash to yoga and an institution that cooperates with the Jewish School in Helsinki to spread the joy of sports.

The book was written Rony Smolar and Adiel Hirschovits. Smolar is a Finnish Jewish journalist and author whose first book Uncle Stiller in the Shadows of the National Police deals (published by Tammi  in 2003) with the fate of the Finnish Jews in the wars of 1939-1945. The book is also being made into a movie. Hirschovits has a background as an entrepreneur. Nowadays he is into fishing, playing with his grandchildren and is a link in his sports enthusiastic family’s chain.


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